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Community perceptions of free-roaming dogs and management practices in villages at the periphery of a protected area in Bhutan

Dorji T., Tenzin T., Rinzin K., Phimpraphai W., De Garine-Wichatitsky M.. 2020. Chiang Mai University Journal of Natural Sciences, 19 (2) : p. 130-150.

In Bhutan, free-roamingdogs pose health hazards to human, livestock, andwildlife. Understanding the perceptions and practices of local communitiesregarding free-roaming dogs is important to mitigate negative impacts. A community-based study was conducted inthe buffer zone of Strict Nature Reserve, western Bhutan. The study was conducted in February-October 2018 using a household questionnairesurvey, 'free-listing'of dog diseases, group discussions and key-informantinterviews.A total of 140 householdsfromKatsho and Esuegeogs(sub-districts) were interviewed. People classify dogs under three categories: 'Gokhi'/petdog, 'Changkhi'/stray dog, and 'Shakhi'/feraldog. A higher proportion of rural people owned pet dogs, which were considered important to guard crops and livestock from wildlifeandprotect households'properties. Owning a dog also contributed significantly to the non-material well-beingof the respondents, especially in the rural villages. In contrast to the perceived positive impacts of the pet dogs,81%of the respondents considered stray and feral dogs a problem in thecommunity.The threats were attacks/bites by free-roaming dogs to humans, livestock and also wildlife. Rabies was the most frequently (69.7%) known dog diseases with the highest rank (1.46) in the list, followed by scabies (49.5%, rank1.52). The majority (56%) of the respondents indicated that stray and feral dogs originate from abandoned pet dogs. This study calls for a multi-sectorial/One Health approach to mitigate the threats posed by free-roaming dogs and more detailed ecological and epidemiological studies are required to control their impacts.

Thématique : Maladies des animaux; Autres thèmes; Conservation de la nature et ressources foncières

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